Built for the limelight
A show car is built to be shown and Mr. Palmer and his studio, Chevrolet III, were determined to make it memorable. They started with a production 1985 IROC-Z. Expressing his contentment with their foundation, Mr. Palmer said this, “The ’82 Camaro was a big thing for us at the Chevy III studio. We got everything we wanted on that job. The production Z28 looked exactly the way we wanted it to. Now the ’85 version of the third-generation Camaro is just as dialed in as the ’82. We feel good about the way it looks.”

1985 Chevrolet Camaro GTZ hood louversTo this “dialed in” design the modifications began with the hood’s functional louvers gated in on the outsides by “air fences.”

1985 Chevrolet Camaro GTZ front fenderNext, 16×10-inch Jongbloed Racing modular wheels were added (originally painted in semi-gloss black, but refinished in the body’s yellow paint, after SEMA) and the tire sizes were bumped from 245/50VRs, to the Corvette’s larger 255/50VRs. Unsatisfied with the visual impact of the show car, Mr. Palmer then flared out the fenders at all four corners.

1985 Chevrolet Camaro GTZ sail panelProbably the GTZ’s most curious trait are the sail panel-mounted, vertical interior air extractors (located just behind the side windows).

After that, the rocker panels were extended 3.5 inches upward and the faux vents were added. Thanks to the smaller engine, the car’s front end was lowered significantly.

1985 Chevrolet Camaro GTZ front endThe headlight openings were rounded and flush-fitting covers attached. Complimenting the smooth headlights, the front turn signals were also made flush and stylistically incorporated into the large front air intake.

1985 Chevrolet Camaro GTZ front clip removedThere are no visual gaps from where the hood opens because the entire front clip is removed for engine access and held on by four pins.

1985 Chevrolet Camaro GTZ rearWith all this done, the stylists realized the rear was looking pretty stock. So, they lowered the overall height of the tail lights and stretched them across the full length of the car. The fenders underwent a substantial softening and an all-new spoiler was attached. As a result of the tail light modifications, the license plate cut-out was moved to the lower portion of the bumper. Below that, the rear lower fascia incorporated a “flow separator” or split opening.

Interestingly, although no suspension modifications were planned, the show car’s 140-pound lighter V-6 engine caused the front end to sit higher up. So, taking advantage of having to do the work anyway, Mr. Palmer decided to lower the whole car by about two inches.

1985 Chevrolet Camaro GTZ paintThen came time for the wow factor which was the paint. The color is a clearcoat pearl over the bright yellow base. It’s been reported that the contents of the paint were so toxic that it could only be applied on show cars such as the GTZ but never large-run production models.

Sold off
In 2009, at a Scottsdale, Arizona Barrett Jackson auction, the 1985 Camaro GTZ was put on the block. It sold but, considering its unique role in GM’s history, for an amazingly low price. Just $22,000. However, it must be taken into account that, being a one-off show car, it was sold with a scrap title. That means, at least in most states, the car cannot be driven on public roads. Nevertheless, that’s an interesting full-size model, loaded with history that someone has sitting in a collection somewhere.

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